SINGAPORE - Tampines Rovers gave outgoing head coach V. Sundramoorthy the perfect send-off when they beat Mohun Bagan on Tuesday (May 24) to reach the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup quarter-finals.
With the scores tied 1-1 deep into extra time and the dreaded penalty shootout looming, a rasping shot from Afiq Yunos off a Jermaine Pennant free-kick sealed the win for Sundram, who is expected to be unveiled as caretaker Singapore coach this week.
Tampines are the first local club to make the AFC Cup, Asia's second-tier club competition, quarter-finals since 2008.
The five-time S-League champions started the game brightly, dominating possession and creating plenty of chances. Star signing Jermaine Pennant was at his best, orchestrating play masterfully from the tip of a midfield triangle.
The former Liverpool and Arsenal man created the Stags' two best chances of the first-half, first with a low cross to find an unmarked Fazrul Nawaz, and then with a defence-splitting through ball to find Jordan Webb.
Both times his team-mates failed to match his industry and fluffed their shots.
But things threatened to get away from the Stags in the second-half when defender Shakir Hamzah got sent off nine minutes after the restart as he was shown two yellow cards in the space of three minutes.
Yet it was the visitors who took the lead, albeit in fortuitous fashion, as Webb's cross from the right in the 63rd minute sailed into the net.
The home side capitalised on their one-man advantage though and midfielder Bikramjit Singh equalised with a thunderous shot from distance nine minutes later.
But, with their backs to the wall, Tampines held on until Afiq's strike four minutes before the final whistle.
The draw for the quarter-final will be held after the round of 16 is completed.